US, South Korea agree to suspend joint military exercise

South Korea, US to suspend military drills

The posts came as South Korean news outlet Yonhap News Agency reported that the United States and South Korea would announce a halt to the large-scale joint military drills that are scheduled for August.

The trip is Kim's third to China since March, when he made his inaugural foreign trip as leader.

Tuesday's Xinhua report did not specify whether Kim will meet with Xi during his visit, which comes a week after a landmark summit between the North Korean leader and U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said there would be no changes to joint drill plans between the United States and Japan, both of which regularly practise to deter North Korea.

Many North Korea security experts do not believe Kim will completely give up his nuclear weapons.

Beijing, North Korea's only economic ally, has already suggested sanctions against North Korea could be eased.

"Because American soldiers in South Korea typically serve there less than one year, even canceling some exercises will hurt readiness", said David Straub, a former senior US diplomat in Seoul.

Involving tens of thousands of troops from the United States and South Korea, the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise includes computer simulations carried out in a large bunker south of Seoul, meant to check the allies' readiness to repel aggression by North Korea.

The visit to China is Mr Kim's third since March, when his first trip overseas since taking office was to meet President Xi Jinping.

China has been particularly pleased by Trump's decision to suspend military drills with South Korea. The Pentagon has for years flatly denied North Korean assertions that the exercises are "provocative". "I think it's very provocative", he said.

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Asked about the future of the peninsula, 33.7 percent of South Korean respondents said the two countries should be unified, while 24.9 percent expected they would continue to exist separately but form an entity similar to the European Union.

The Pentagon has formally suspended a major military exercise that was planned with South Korea in August.

Anticipation over what comes next is swirling amid concern from regional experts, who've argued North Korea (DPRK) and its allies China and Russian Federation came away the big winners of the summit.

Trump said last week after meeting with Kim in Singapore that he would end "war games" carried out with the South Koreans.

Beijing has repeatedly called for a "dual-track and suspension for suspension" approach where the North would stop its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for the US and South Korea halting military exercises.

It was later combined with South Korea's Ulchi exercise, which was launched in the wake of a North Korean infiltration in 1968.

Ending the joint exercises, Moon said, puts pressure on North Korea to be reasonable as the two sides discuss the process ahead.

Kim has labeled the exercises practice for an invasion of North Korea.

Although the allies describe them as defensive and meant to improve coordination, North Korea previous year called them " reckless sabre-rattling" that risked sparking an accidental war. "South Korean military maneuvers", according to a North Korean source in Beijing.

Mr. Trump has said he wants quick action after the achievement of a four-point joint statement at the summit committing to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the pursuit of improved relations between Washington and Pyongyang - potentially toward the lifting US sanctions on North Korea.

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